THEME: GOD IS THE GIVER OF LIFE
READINGS: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24/ 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15/ Mark 5:21-43
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the face of a life-threatening sickness, so many questions may arise. In such a situation, even some Christians feel that God is very distant from them.
Worse still is when we lose a parent, child, spouse, sibling or any other dear one. In such a situation, some may ask: Why did God allow this to happen to them? Does God really exist?
In the latter situation, the words of Job, the ‘Lord gave, the Lord has taken away’ (Job 1:20), does not sit well with some mourners. They ask: ‘How can a good God take away my dear one, now that I need him or her most?’
Beloved, such questions and expressions of despair may not arise if we know and truly accept the Christian faith that God is the giver of life and not the cause of death. Death was the creation of the devil. Thus, according to today’s first reading, ‘God made man imperishable … it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world’ (Wisdom 2:23-24). That is, God created us to live forever. The devil, however, brought death into the world. However, there is good news for us: in Jesus Christ, God fixes the problem of death.
1. GOD CREATED US TO LIVE FOREVER
Why do we believe that God created us to live forever? It is because:
i. The good Lord could not have created death, which is an evil.
ii. Death, which is a destruction, could not have been part of God’s creation; for God’s work at the end of ‘six days’ of creation was described as ‘very good’; i.e., perfect (cf. Gen. 1:31).
iii. If death were to be God’s creation, it would have been contradictory to send his Son to ‘fix’ the damage caused by sin and death (cf. Rom. 5:12).
iv. No part of the immortal God can die; therefore, the spirit he breathed into Adam cannot die (cf. Wisdom 2: 23).
2. IN JESUS, GOD FIXES THE PROBLEM OF DEATH
A creative person is capable of recycling or turning waste into something useful. Similarly, the Creator God turns death (the waste which the devil brought into the world) into the manure for our eternal life. In other words, the problem of death, which the devil brought into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the Master Creator fixes through the obedience of his Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 5:12-21).
Another way of seeing death in the eyes of Jesus is that it is a mere long sleep. Now, as a doctor may induce a patient into sleep, so as to undertake a life-giving surgical operation, so Jesus sees our death as a sleep during which he undertakes the eternal life-giving operation. Thus, according to the gospel reading, Jesus told those wailing at the death of the 12-year old girl that she was not dead, but only asleep (cf. Mark 5:21-43).
3. JESUS DEMONSTRATED THAT HE HAS COME TO GIVE US FULL LIFE
Beloved, Jesus, did not only say that the little girl was asleep, he actually demonstrated that in him, God fixes the problem of death. Thus, to the utter astonishment of the mourners who laughed when Jesus said that the girl was asleep, he raised her back to life.
Furthermore, blood, as we know, signifies life and the total lack of it means death. Therefore, Jesus, by stopping the flow of blood of the woman who had hemorrhage for 12 years, showed that he gives life.
In fact, Jesus has come that we might have full life (cf. John 10:10); that is, not just earthly life, but eternal life. Hence, Jesus did not merely raise the dead Lazarus back to this earthly life, but he also declared that he is ‘the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25) – that is, in him, we have access to life forever in heaven.
Beloved, let us, therefore, not allow any life-threatening situation or the blow of death in our family or community to lead us to despair or doubt. Rather, let us reaffirm our faith that God, the giver of life, has created us to live forever; and that, in Jesus Christ, ‘the resurrection and the life’, death is no longer our end, but the sleep of ‘spiritual operation’ during which he heals our souls for everlasting life in heaven. Amen.
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis